Anti-Kiev protesters take control of govt buildings in Lugansk Region, east Ukraine
Anti-government protesters have taken control of the regional administration building and prosecutor’s office in the city of Lugansk, eastern Ukraine. Protests continue as the deadline for the protesters’ ultimatum to the government expired.
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“The building is ours. That’s it,” local protest leader Oleg Dereko told RIA Novosti.
“A regional administration building has been taken by storm,” an activist who asked not to be named has told RT. “A coordination committee and militia are now inside and are getting ready for an emergency meeting.”
The Ukrainian flag on the building has been replaced with Russia's tricolor.
Another activist, who said he is now inside the regional administration office, has told RT that the building was seized without using any weapons. He has said that anti-government protesters are now negotiating with armed police, who activists blocked in the back yard, in order to persuade them to surrender their weapons and leave.
A small group of guards barricaded themselves in one of the corridors of the building, according to footage from the scene. The protesters convinced them to leave.
The protesters, some of them armed with clubs and metal shields, have spread throughout the building.
No injuries or violence were reported during the takeover.
"There are no injured. We are peaceful people,” Dereko said.
The police guards from the building have gathered in the courtyard. They are standing holding their shields, while protesters, who are also present there, cheer them for not confronting the activists with violence.
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Protesters rallied towards the regional administration building when none of the officials responded to their ultimatum to local government issued on Sunday. The people are demanding amnesty for all political prisoners, the holding of a referendum and making Russian also an official language.
"We waited till 14:00 local time, the time we expected the reply by. No answer was received. Kiev has completely ignored our demands,” Oleg Dereko told RIA Novosti.
Aleksey Uskoryakin, another protest leader, said the take-over was not planned. The protesters wanted to hold a rally and send a delegation to talk to regional MPs, but they were absent in the building. Emotions got the better of the situation, resulting in seizure of the building, in which several windows were broken.
The protesters are contemplating a possible release of the building, “if the governor and lawmakers agree to negotiate.”
Activists estimate there are over 3, 000 people remain outside the building and more continue to arrive.
“There are over 3,000 people on the square. People are arriving; the square is filling up with people. The governor has not come out yet and no announcements have been made. Everyone is waiting for a response on the ultimatum, the deadline has passed already,” Dereko told the news agency.
Several hundred protesters then moved to the local prosecutor’s office, which they seized shortly after.
According to media estimates, some 700 people approached the building and started hurling stones, breaking windows and knocking down doors. It took them ten minutes to get inside, Interfax news agency reported.
The agency stressed that no law enforcement officers were at the scene.